Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Old Photos, Old Stories

During a recent visit with my grandfather, I borrowed a few old photographs to scan into my computer.  It is very interesting to me to see the resemblances of family members, but the most intriguing thing is the ability to catch a glimpse into their lives.  When I look at the pictures, I so desperately want to put myself in their shoes and imagine what it was like to live then and there.  In fact, unless there was something written about the photo or unless there is someone who was there telling me about it, my imagination is all I have.

For example, I have always liked this picture and imagined my newlywed grandparents were dressed up to go to some special occasion.

Come to find out, per my grandfather, they were just going to the neighboring apartment complex to play Bridge with some friends.  Can you believe how dressy they were to just go to a friend's house?  We don't even dress this well to go to church.  This reminds me of Andy Griffith or Dick Van Dyke shows when the characters donned a suit coats and bow ties to go to a neighbor's house for supper.  This photo is evidence that real-life people actually did that! 

Here is what I don't know:  Did my grandmother ever get frustrated living across the United States from her family while my grandfather was stationed in California or was she happy to embark on an adventure?  Did she make friends easily or was it hard for her?  Was their transition into married life calm or stormy?

This photo of my dad (on the left) is funny to me because it looks so much like Thing2 (right), only it was taken almost 50 years ago.

From my grandfather, I know that my grandmother loved to dress the boys up to take their pictures.  I also know that she liked to sew. (She was a home economics teacher for awhile.)  Also, I know she had two sons just like me and wanted a daughter but never had one.

Here is what I don't know:  Did her Thing2 act like mine as much as he looked like mine?  Where did she buy their clothes or did she use hand-me-downs?  How did she handle daily life with the kids?  How did she handle discipline?  What was her relationship like with her husband, mother, siblings, etc.?  How about this:  Was it common for little boys to wear white socks with black pants when they dressed up, or was that just a cute mistake?

I love to look at these photographs, but I crave to see a journal or some letters or something that would tell me more than just what they looked like.  I am satisfied that if my kids or grandkids ever wonder what I thought, they can look back at journals or blog posts and learn a lot.  Maybe too much.  But if any of my descendents are like me, they will be happy to learn which challenges and joys are unique to them in their eras and which ones transcend decades and that they have in common with their parents and grandparents.

Meanwhile, I am happy to look at these priceless photographs and ask questions of the ones who might remember...
Question:  Do you keep a journal?  Please comment!

Shared with Gratituesday.


A Nest in the Rocks said...

I gave up years ago on regular baby books, so I bought each kid a blank book, and when we hit a milestone or something special or unusual happens, I pull it out and write a bit. We've passed it around at birthdays and special events for grandparents and great-grandparents to write in, too, and we plan to give it to the kids when they get married or have their own kids.

I have lots of old photos, too, but I had four great-grandparents 'til I was a late teen, so I got to hear many stories from them. I still miss them, though - we were close!

AIMA said...

I love that idea! I have baby books, but I also have a hard time filling them out. To me, an empty book is much more interesting.

Anonymous said...

No journal, at least not at this time in my life... I remember keeping one in High School. I LOVE the blank baby book idea. But Maybe I'll have a blank book for me too. To share "me" with out child/husband attachment...
After my grandmother's funeral, my aunt was sharing with us how they dealt with the funeral arrangements, and how close they were to the funeral home owners... In talking about getting old Mrs. Funeral Home said "OH!!! you must have an Alzheimer's closet! (She laughed at my Aunt's expression and continued) When you get old and dementia or Alzheimer's disease takes your logical thinking, your brain start releasing pent up feelings and thoughts." both my Aunt and Cousin agreed that this is very painful to hear from a loved one. "Thus She said, you open a closet, yell/tell/cry your frustrations to it, and close the door. It's out and you don't have to worry about Harboring that emotion."
All of this to say, maybe we ALL need an Alzheimer's closet in one way or another, for one it maybe a thereputic horse back ride, for another maybe an office storage room, and still others a journal. Happy writing AIMA!

AIMA said...

You nailed it, Anonymous! (I think I know who you are.) My journal is my Alzheimer's closet. The Husband thinks working is his. Interesting. The fact that it will be there for my kids one day is a side benefit. When I write, it is usually for the clarity that writing something provides.

If something is illogical, unclear, or just a bad idea, I usually know it once I write it down.

Sometimes I look back through the journal and read about feelings and problems I forgot I had...and their solutions if there were any. This is helpful since my ups and downs seem to be cyclic. They always come back around.

Anonymous said...

huh! Normally you'd think work would cause you to need an Alzheir's Closet! LOL! You did marry the "odd one"! LOL!!! ;)
HUH! Provides clarity. Never thought of that. I'll start writing. It's like one of the scrpitures that was pointed out on Sunday. I've forgotten the many times that God has shown his mercy adn provided a way out... but oh how I forget. hummm a vicious cycle maybe journally shall help! THANK YOU!

AIMA said...

So thankful for my odd one. We will never starve because of laziness.